VIETNAM – May 26 2020

The girl who was saved by her SOS mother

Pham Thi Thuy, an SOS mother at SOS Children's Villages Vietnam, provides loving care to siblings Gia and Duc to reverse their malnutrition.

Gia* is a quiet three-year-old little girl who is the doll for most of the SOS village in Da Nang, Vietnam. Gia was two-and-a half years old and her brother Duc* was six years old when they were left at the village by their biological mother. She was ailing with goiter and couldn’t afford to look after them. Both the siblings were malnourished when they came to SOS Children’s Villages Vietnam, but Gia was at an especially critical age where she could have succumbed because of malnourishment—despite the best care.

Pham Thi Thuy, the children’s SOS mother, recalls how Gia was so small and yet had perfect long, lustrous hair, like a doll. She was all bones and sad eyes, and refused to eat. Pham would wake up to feed the siblings during the night, hoping they would survive. Remembering those days, Pham says she often lay awake at night next to Gia’s little body, wondering if she would be able to wrestle this little one out of the hands of death.

Other mothers in the village would look at Gia and sigh, making Pham even more determined to save the little girl.

Eating is still an issue with Gia, who takes a long time to finish her food. Duc, however, has started eating normally and has grown enough to be a healthy height and weight for his age. Gia also hates taking baths because she’s scared, though she loves bathing her dolls. Pham wishes Gia would start eating more so she can enter the normal weight range for her age. This will help Pham feel assured that there would be no long-term effects of malnutrition from Gia’s past.

When Pham was asked if she still fears whether Gia is growing up healthy, she said she is sure Gia will be alright:

“Gia may seem small to you and very quiet, but she is fierce in what she wants. She is quite protective of her brother, even though he’s much bigger and stronger. She is a chatterbox inside the house with her siblings, although she rarely opens up when she is playing with neighborhood kids. Her siblings in the house have to request her to ‘shut up’ so they can rest from her chattering!”

Gia’s and Duc’s biological mother sometimes comes to visit the siblings. Both siblings cry a lot when they see her. However, they go back to their happy lives after a few days of their biological mother’s visit.

The SOS neighborhood aunts often comment on how Gia’s story is like a Vietnamese fairy tale—with a fairy godmother, Pham, who saved her life.

*Names changed to protect the children’s privacy

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